Digital Dharma Endowment
A Message from Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
To good souls using our websites, described as “where Hinduism meets the future:”
To keep our free web resources online, during the final quarter of the year we reached out for assistance from all of you around the world who value the spiritual and educational content on our sites. We followed the Wikipedia model, a world-class, free-resources site that raises funds once a year to keep their good work going. The response was overwhelming, truly a wind under our wings, with contributions exceeding our goal by 20 percent. In our "How the Funds Are Used" section below, we detail what we did with last year’s generous gifts and what we hope to accomplish next year.
Not long ago, before the now ubiquitous Internet, information was hard to come by. Sources were few but mostly authoritative, such as encyclopedias and books which had been carefully tooled by trained editors and fact checkers.
We quickly crossed the bridge to the other side, and now we find ourselves in the opposite situation. There is a monsoon of information from all kinds of sources. Every second, hundreds of millions of us around the globe are looking to the Internet for information on topics that interest us, including Hinduism. What we need now is organized knowledge that we can count on being authentic.
Our sites provide that–and they do it for free and without ads. Nowhere else will you find such a wealth of resources about our faith, carefully researched and compiled from across the globe. How important is it to you to have good resources on Hinduism online? How important is it that your friends and business associates, your children and their teachers, when doing a search about Hinduism, find a place that explains it from the inside, without academic biases or gross misconceptions?
One reason you might consider donating is that the grant from this endowment will go straight to the enhancement of the sites and the content, not staff salaries or administrative overhead, since these sites are created and maintained by selfless monks who work for free and live simply in a verdant monastery on the island of Kauai.
The Digital Dharma Drive Endowment began in 2010 when we put 10 percent, almost $6,000, of that years contributions into this permanent fund. Each year we plan to add to that endowment, which will generate a steady income for decades to come, protecting the digital future of Hinduism, your religious heritage.
We are here, on the Internet, for you today. With your help, we will be here for you for years to come, in the lives of your grandchildren–and perhaps in your next life.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam
Publisher of Hinduism Today
How Your 2010 Donations Were Used
We hired a firm in Chennai to convert many of our renowned publications on contemporary Hinduism to PDF, ePub (for iPad, iPhone, Nook and other devices) and Amazon Kindle formats. Gurudeva's entire trilogy (over 3,000 pages), our children's story books, Gurudeva's Toolbox for a Spiritual Life, our history lessons, Gurudeva's Spiritual Visions, Hinduism Today magazine issues for the year and, importantly, our newest spiritual biography The Guru Chronicles—all these will soon be available for free on our website and for sale through the Apple iBookstore and Amazon Kindle Store.
Digital Dharma Library
Knowing that our current website doesn't make finding our resources as easy and transparent as it should, we embarked upon a complete overhaul. First, a programmer in Brazil was hired to construct a database to hold all of our resources and write web applications that will facilitate organization and access. Second, one of the world's best professional web design firms, Happy Cog, was contracted to craft a modern, more functional interface to the site that visitors will navigate easily through, accessing our thousands of resources: art, books, literature, audio and video files, and more. The aesthetic design and web page templates are complete. We are currently working hard to move all of the content into the new database and page templates, and by January we plan to go live with the new site. Here is a sample page from the newly redesigned website:
Another firm was hired to help us implement a private social networking site to connect our Saiva Siddhanta Church members and Himalayan Academy students around the world.
A web contractor was hired to update the website of our international magazine with each quarter's new edition.
Funds were also used to purchase software and fonts that will be used on the new website, iPads for developing delivery systems to mobile units, domain registration fees, etc.
Our Plans for This Year's Contributions
There are many more books to convert to PDF, ePub and Kindle formats to make them available for use on today's variety of digital readers. By the end of 2012, we hope to have all our publications, big and small, available as ebooks.
2012 is planned to be our Year of the App. We have waited long to embark on this important initiative, and with the main goals behind us, the way seems clear. Apps that bring our publications to life, apps that teach, apps that inspire and guide children. It's a whole new world for us to plan for and design.
Our new site is beautiful and functional, but what if you are trying to access it on your iPhone or Android phone? We hope to hire our web design firm to make the necessary enhancements behind the scenes to make the site fully functional and easy to use on devices with small screens.
Hinduism Today Website
The online presence of our international magazine was recently redesigned, but it's still not perfect. We hope to hire a web designer to make needed adjustments.
As with any large web architecture project, especially for a site offering as many thousands of resources as ours, there will be ongoing maintenance and programming of new tools and features to keep the site up to date and functional for users. For this, we will need to continue to hire our Brazil-based programmer.
Members' social site
Continued development of features to bring students and families together from far corners of the world.